Portsmouth champion of pensioners Nell Leaver remembered at funeral as a generous, caring friend and lover of choir music

TRIBUTES poured in at the funeral of a woman remembered as a passionate advocate of music, as well as a founding member of the Portsmouth Pensioners.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 5:23 pm

Family and friends of Nell Leaver, who passed away on July 17 at the age of 96, gathered today at St Mary's Church in Fratton for a celebration of life.

Born in 1924, Nell was one of 12 children.

She married her husband Ernest in 1945, and son Roger was born the following year.

Nell Leaver in 2004 Picture : Paul Jacobs (040479-6)

Throughout her life, Nell worked in a number of shops, including a role at the Co-op in Twyford Avenue which she took up after moving to Stamshaw in 1963.

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Nell was known as a ‘choir groupie’, and enjoyed attending local concerts.

Fr Bob White, vicar of St Mary's, who paid homage to Nell's ‘generosity and care of others’ at the funeral, remembered that she would bring his team a bag of humbugs to share when she attended concerts at the church.

Pallbearers carrying the coffin of Nell Leaver into St Mary's Church Picture: Habibur Rahman

Ashokan Farewell, one of Nell's favourite pieces of music, was played during the church ceremony.

It was performed by The Royal Marines Band, a choir she loved to listen to.

The bright blue jackets of several Solent Male Voice Choir members could be spotted in the crowd at the funeral.

Previous musical director, Geoff Porter, said that Nell was the choir's number one fan.

Portsmouth Pensioners Association outside St Marys Church Picture: Habibur Rahman

David McVittie, choir chairman, added: 'Nell was always there. She used to dress quite eccentrically, she was great fun. A wonderful person.'

Many members of the Portsmouth Pensioners Association attended St Mary's, sharing their memories of Nell, who was a past president of the group.

The group lobbies for the welfare of pensioners across Portsmouth.

Outside the church, chairman Steve Bonner, who knew Nell for several years, said: ‘Most members will remember her from the wonderful Christmas lunches.

Solent Male Voice Choir outside St Mary's Church. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Nell was very personable, quite chatty. She organised the most amazing raffles.’

Sisters Valerie and Rosemary England were close friends of Nell.

Rosemary said: ‘She supported all the local choirs.’

Valerie shared a love of music with her friend, having performed with a glee club for 45 years. She said: 'Nell was just so friendly, the friendship that she gave to everybody. She was friends with very many people.

‘She will be missed.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Family members arriving at St Mary's Picture: Habibur Rahman

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